BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- European Union antitrust regulators fined Mitsubishi Electric and Hitachi Ltd. a total of 137.8 million euros ($149.8 million) today for fixing prices of car alternators and starters.
World No. 2 parts maker Denso avoided a fine as it alerted the European Commission to the existence of the cartel. Reuters reported on Tuesday that the cartel would be sanctioned by the EU competition watchdog.
Mitsubishi Electric received the biggest fine at 110.9 million euros while Hitachi's sanction came to 26.9 million euros.
The European Commission action marks the first of several automobile-related cases scheduled for 2016 and is the latest in a series of penalties levied by competition watchdogs in the U.S., Europe and Asia against a long-time business model in the industry.
That model essentially sees parts makers keep prices relatively high for new components they supply to car manufacturers, and then charge even more for the same parts supplied as replacements to dealerships and repair shops.
U.S. antitrust regulators fined Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd., Mitsubishi Electric Corp. and others for fixing prices of accelerators and starters in September 2013.
Japan's Fair Trade Commission in November 2012 also named the three companies in a similar cartel.
The EU watchdog is investigating possible cartels in car thermal systems, car lighting, seat belts and steering wheels, car exhaust systems and electrolytic capacitors, among others.